Spring time at Coon Hollow Farm

Spring time at Coon Hollow Farm
Our Olde English "Babydoll" Sheep and their lambs

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What do honeybees do when they are hot?

What do honeybees do when they get hot you asked? They "beard"!! Some will actually come out of the hive and try to cool down. We have had two days of rain and extreme humid conditions here and even the honeybees are hot!!!

This is Kisha's hive and they were trying to get cool as well. All the hives were doing this this evening. My goodness is it hot!!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Permaculture you ask...

 Permaculture, what is it? It's all the rage lately, but most don't even know what it is! The definition is also broad because it encompasses a lot of things. So I suggest if you are wondering, look it up and read the many interpretations. We installed ours with the advice of a very wise young man named Mike who is the Permaculture guru. It was with this advice, we went forward because of our chickens and erosion.
 In the top picture, we have a small hill in our backyard. We found fencing and poles that we had about. This area was mostly prepared by the chickens. The area to the right is their "swale". To the right, this is were they will take their dirt baths and allow rain water to settle without running down the hill and eroding.
The plants are installed to create a barrier for the erosion. Many different plants that have a purpose for use...
Anise Hyssop and Apple Mint for teas...

 Feverfew and Comfrey for healing...

Blueberry bushes, three total, for what else? Blueberry Cobbler, yummmmm...

 and Peppermint. All the plants also have great root systems to hold back the soil. This will help the area become established. We will also be able to dump the straw from the chicken coop with in the area to create a mulch bed. The plants will help the honeybees and other pollinators. This acts as a multi purpose barrier with many use able plants with benefits!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Have you ever had that feeling???

Have you ever had the feeling someone was following you? Well around here it is about 25 someone's! Tim was bringing a new bag of chicken feed up to the greenhouse, and he was like the pied piper! This happens a lot around here!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Making Comfrey Salve

One of my favorite plants to see coming up in the Spring is Comfrey! By the time winter is over I am about out of it and everyone else that swears by it too! This picture is what Comfrey looks like after a rain shower!
This year one plant netted the biggest leaves I have ever seen! Mind you I have Comfrey planted all over our property! The chickens especially love it so there is some out of their way behind the fenced garden. To make the salve, you have to pick and rinse off the leaves and allow to dry for a day.
This recipe was gifted to me by my friend Raye, but I have tweaked it here and there over the years. Olive oil is added and heated for some time and then allowed to sit to draw out the healing properties. I usually let sit up to two days.

The Comfrey is then strained, in this case with my honey strainer! The Comfrey is not waisted, it is placed in our compost bin.

After the tincture is drained, our bees own beeswax is added slowly until I get the proper consistency, adding some other ingredients as well.

When the salve is perfect, it is added to tin containers, tops added...

Labels are added and they are ready for healing!!!

Monday, June 30, 2014

June's Farm Friend of the Month

I almost forgot about "Farm Friend of the Month". So as I was thinking, what would our little farm be like without new lambs? The picture above is "Lily's" little ewe lamb. She always casts off a beautiful lamb and she didn't disappoint this year. The "Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown" sheep is a sweet, gentle breed that area a joy to have around. To learn more about them visit this website, the original, http://www.oldeenglishbabydollregistry.com/

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The chicks first outing...

 The chicks are growing almost over night! Today we decided to allow them to venture out into the small run that our overflow coop has. There was much trepidation in the beginning. It's a big world out there!
 A few just weren't having it! They looked from above, stood on the ramp and even went back inside...
...but for the few brave it was an adventure! Dirt under the toes, scratching was done for the first time and one even dug into the grown and stretched out her wing in a relaxed and very chicken way!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bee Inspections-on the State level!!!

Today we had our State Inspections with our State Entomologist, Mark Creighton. I have been sick for the past two days so he rustled me out of bed at 2:00 p.m., yes that's what I said! I had slept for 16 hours almost straight so I was well rested. We actually had an appointment for Wednesday, so I was a bit surprised to see him. I suffered through, with my head feeling like it was going to explode and got it done.
Needless to say we found some interesting things, I learned a lot and gained a great respect for a man with this much knowledge.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The chicks are growing!!!

The chicks are growing so fast!!! They came here to live on Coon Hollow Farm three weeks ago. It seems like we have two roosters and seven hens. They are beginning to roost when they sleep just like big chickens! The two in the back are different breeds from the rest, can't wait to see what they turn out to be!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Early Harvest gifts from the Honeybees!!!

 Our honeybees have done an exceptional job this year! They are busy busy busy! I have already harvested bee pollen. In this picture, the left pollen is lighter and the pollen on the right is more orange in color. The difference in what the bees are collecting as far as available pollen sources.
 I have been able to bottle some and it is available for purchase. Great for allergies among other ailments too!

We have also harvested some honey that is light but very thick and yummy! These girls are doing so well this year. Connecticut has had a perfect Spring which has helped them thrive.

Friday, June 6, 2014

It just takes one!!!

 The last hive inspection we did, netted just, one tiny little varroa mite on a drone. The first time I ever saw one sent me into a freak out frenzy but now that I know what to do I am okay with that! The most organic way to take care of this without chemicals.
The key is to sprinkle confectionery sugar on them the same day for about 5 weeks. This coats their bodies with the powdered sugar so the mite cannot cling on.
We have the State Bee Inspector coming next week to look at the hives so we will get some test done and hopefully learn a few things about our hives.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Spring Spinning!

Spring means a lot of work on the farm! Time for other things is practically none in the Spring. The other day it was raining so I found myself inside and decided to clean the fiber studio...
 I got to cleaning this and that until I came across this bag of kid mohair in the most delighful spring colors of lavender and a light sweet green as well as a hint of blue and yellow. It was as if I suddenly was a terrier and saw a squirrel! I grabbed the bag and made my way to my Country Spinner wheel.
I spun this in a method of core spinning without a core. The trick is extending the core with your left hand and finger and wrapping with the other hand. It is fun and challenging all at once. So maybe we will get back in that room and get some organization on as long as no more "squirrels" pop up!!!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Good bee news!!!

 Yesterday was full on hive inspections! Hive #1 was hopping with lots of bees, capped brood but no queen, no larva which left me knowing I went a bit too far with trying to stop them from swarming. Hive #2 which had part of the swarm added to it. The picture of the frame was a sample of how amazing this hive is doing. They already have the second hive body drawn out so a super was added! Hive #3 netted an amazing amount of pollen that was in their pollen trap! A second hive body was added to that hive.
Little Hive #4 did not make the nuc process sadly. There was lots of burr comb and sorry girls but that is mine! No bad drawn out comb will be permitted! This will be used in my salves!
Lastly, Kisha's hive is queen right and strong, lots of brood, larva and happy bees!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Look who came to live with us!

Last week I got a message from a friend that these little chicks needed a home. Apparently they were hatched in a school in NYC as a class program. It was a group effort to get them here, my friend Cheryl Ann knew and arranged everything and Ellen brought them to me. No one is sure of the breeds so we will have to wait to see what they turn out to be, boys or girls too!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

We have a broody girl!

I went into the chicken coop today, let the gang out and closed the gate door. We don't want mama raccoon back in the coop! I went about my way, planting some things in the garden, watering and this and that. I then went into the greenhouse, opened the coop door on the other side and discovered our chicken Ms. Ivory is brooding! She tried this at the beginning of the fall last year and I could not allow her to raise chicks then, but I will this year. When a chicken goes broody, which means she is laying on her fertilized eggs and will stop eating and drinking to hatch out her chicks. So time will tell in about 21 days if she is successful!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Composting and reducing our waste

 When you toss that banana or that paper towel into the trash, did it ever occur to you that it could help your soil and work for you? Composting everything from your egg shells to your paper towels could make your garden grow?
Even the waste from some of your animals can be a wonderful food for the worms and enzymes that break it down into beautiful black gold compost!
If you go up on the web, you can search on how to make an easy compost bin with pallets or even hay bales!
Our waste is so important to basic sustainability. In the picture, I had just dumped my rabbits used litter. We use pelleted newspaper which is very compostable! Other types of things we toss out each day that can be added is coffee grounds (and the filter too!), eggs shells, vegetable scraps, used tissues, newspaper and so on! We CAN cut down on what is tossed into the land fills daily! Turning the compost pile from time to time can net the most nutritious soil for your garden.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New Beeks and Inspections!

This past Sunday, myself, and the three new "Beeks" did inspections on the hives. Kisha's hive was queenless again. No signs of brood and the numbers were very low. It was very possible that her queen went out for her mating flight and did not make it back. We have many birds around and queens fly very slow. We found lots of swarm cells in the large hive as well as supercedure cells so we added those to Kisha's hive.
Then it was time for Pat and Sue to do an inspection as I looked on. (That is them in the picture above). It was quite a treat to have them inspecting with concentration and applying everything they have learned up to this point. Each hive had something or another going on and there was a lot of hmmmmm's going on. The bees have been quite bizarre this year. I am hoping as May moves on they will settle down and get to the business of making honey!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

'Tis swarm season...

 It is that time of year, honeybee swarm season! We have been holding strong keeping them from swarming, making splits, pulling queen cells to help a hive that was not "queen right", but to no avail, they still swarmed!
With a special swarm attractant wipe, I went to work preparing a "swarm trap". These wipes have worked for me in the past.
 Using a contraption I have used in the past I fashioned my swarm trap, put it in a bush and hoped to catch my bees...and guess what? I did not! I watched for a little bit and about 1000 bees (which is not much) began to swarm and then flew away, but it was a very small swarm!
 But then I got a call! There was a call into a local animal control that a woman had a swarm in her back yard. I went and found this monster huge swarm! This swarm was about 20 times of the one I lost.
 I rushed home, got my equipment and ran back for the swarm. With the woman's pool skimmer I dropped the swarm into the nuc box and hoped I had the queen in there. It was evening so I left the hive there until the next morning.

 When I returned the next day, all the bees were in the nuc hive! The queen was in there along with about 20,000 bees! The size of a bee package!
 I taped up the box and went home with my newly caught hive! Nothing like free bees to make a beekeepers day!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Shearing Day on the Farm!

 Here he is, Tim the great Alpaca wrangler! This morning before our shearers got there, we harnessed and wormed everyone...
 The gang was quite suspect, with much humming going on in the barnyard.
 Our shearers arrived and got right to work shearing all the sheep first. The lambs were very upset because they did not recognize their mom's. They began screaming because they thought there were strangers in the barnyard with them!
 The Alpacas were done right after the sheep with some screaming. The seasoned old timers took it with a grain of salt and accepted their shearing with grace and composer.
Their teeth and hooves were trimmed. We broke our record for time from last year down to an hour and a half. A big shout out and much thanks to our friend BillieJo who came over and gave us a hand. Tim claims this as the worst day of his year, me it's not so bad! They are trimmed and ready for the hot weather ahead and we got some beautiful fiber as well!